Born in Akron, Ohio, Lane played point guard for Saint Vincent-Saint Mary High School and appeared in the McDonald's All-American Game. He joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1985-86 as a 170 pound freshman. By his junior season, the 6'6" forward was 60 pounds heavier. In 1986-87, his 13.5 rebounds per game made him the first player 6'6" or shorter to lead the country in rebounds per game (13.5) since Niagara's Alex Ellis in 1957-58. He left school after leading the Big East Conference in rebounding during the 1987-88 season.
Lane was selected in the first round of the 1988 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets with the 23rd pick overall. Lane played in the NBA for five seasons with the Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers. Lane shined in the Continental Basketball Association as a star for the Oklahoma City Calvary. He was an all-star in the league from 1994-96 and led the league in rebounding in 1995 (11.8) and 1996 (16.8). After a successful stint in Spain he returned to the CBA and led the league once more in rebounding in 1999, pulling down 14.5 rebounds per game for the Idaho Stampede.
Although best known for his rebounding skills, Lane was also an adept ball handler. His jump shot and foul shooting were never consistent. He was voted as the best rebounder in the history of the ACB.
On January 25, 1988 in college basketball game featuring Lane's Pittsburgh team playing Providence on a national television broadcast, Lane broke the glass backboard with a one-handed dunk with Sean Miller assisting on the play. Often referred to simply as "The Dunk", the play was famously called by color analystBill Raftery when he exclaimed "Send it in, Jerome!!" The play is on ESPN's list of the "100 Greatest Sports Highlights" and has been the subject of numerous articles even decades later.